Wednesday, September 30, 2009

UPrinting Vinyl Banner Giveaway!

True Adventures in Money Hacking has just been sponsored by UPrinting, and we're thrilled to announce our first giveaway. One of our lovely readers will win a 24 x 36" vinyl banner with grommets ($62 value plus free UPS Ground shipping) to use as you please. Advertise your business, throw a party or fundraiser, declare your undying love for whatever it is you so adore. . . . The choices are endless.

Open only to US Residents. FREE UPS Ground Shipping for US residents. Giveaway ends October 28th. Winner will receive coupon code for free banner on November 1st. UPrinting is responsible for prize fulfillment.

To Enter: Mandatory, one-time only entry: Leave a comment below telling us how you would use your banner.

Extra Entries (leave a separate comment for each one) :
  • Friend us on Facebook or MySpace
  • Follow TAiMH with Google Friend Connect (see sidebar)
  • Blog about this giveaway and include a link to both TAiMH and Uprinting. Leave a link to your blog post in your comment.
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Tweet this giveaway by copy and pasting the following: @Uprinting vinyl banner #giveaway @TiredoBeingPoor

Giveaway Ends: Thursday October 29 at midnight Central Standard Time.

We'll announce the winner on the blog and email him or her on Friday, October 30, so if your blogger profile doesn't display your email address, be sure to leave it in your comment. The winner will have 24 hours to reply or a new winner will be drawn.

Good luck!

Don't forget to enter our other current giveaway, for a free 1-of-a-kind T-shirt!

Thanks to for sponsoring our blog and being kind enough to send us a free banner, too.

UPrinting Vinyl Banner Giveaway!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Homemade Veggie Burgers—Mexican Style

Last month I posted my recipe for Homemade Indian-Style Veggie Burgers, and I must say that they were a hit. Well, I thought I'd share another recipe for veggie burgers. It's easy, delicious, and as with my previous recipe, you can make a large batch of these burgers and freeze them for future use.

Frozen burgers cooking on skillet.

Best of all, you'll save quite a bit of money by avoiding pricey brands like Gardenburger, BOCA Burger, Morningstar, and the rest.

The key is to buy as many of the following ingredients in bulk as possible and to reuse containers when doing so. This way you'll reduce the cost to your bank account and to the environment by avoiding unnecessary packaging.

On to the recipe.

Homemade Mexican-Style Black Bean & Lentil Burgers
makes about 16 burgers

6 oz. black beans (dry)
6 oz. lentils (dry)
1/2 small onion
3 garlic cloves
2 jalapeno peppers (substitute: 1 Tb. cayenne)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 beaten eggs
1 cup bread crumbs

1. Prepare beans and lentils.
2. Allow beans and lentils to cool.
3. Mash together.
4. Chop onion, garlic, jalapenos, and cilantro.
5. Mix all ingredients in large bowl.
6. Add more bread crumbs, if necessary, until desired consistency.
7. Roll mixture into balls, and press into patties.
8. Cook on greased skillet 5–8 min.

If you plan to freeze the burgers, make sure you double layer the wax paper in between. This will keep them from sticking together—you don't want to have to pry them apart!

Do you know of a delicious recipe to share, one that will save some cash? Please let us know in a comment.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet and the October Fest Carnival of Super Foods: Beans and Legumes Recipes at Kitchen Stewardship.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Backyard Garden—Money Hack Total Savings: $105.50

Here it is, the moment you've all (or at least I've) been waiting for: the season-end economic garden tally! Finally, we found out if all our efforts were really worth it, money-wise anyway.

We didn't spend any more money after our original costs, outlined in this post, and hardly spent any time in the garden after those first couple of weeks. We just sat back and watched, and ate! So the only thing left to do is the math. Hooray!

Produce Yields and Supermarket Costs
(All prices are quoted from Peapod, unless otherwise stated. Sales tax not included.)

swiss chard: 3 large bunches @ $1.99/bunch = $5.97

green beans: roughly 60 oz. @ $2.50/12oz. bag = $12.50

tomatoes: approx. 80 @ $0.50 ea. (on sale) = $40

watermelons: 5 1/2 (1 was pretty small) @ $3.99 ea. (Schnucks) = $21.94

27 @ $0.75 ea. = $20.25

bell peppers:
16 @ $0.89 ea. = $14.24

2 bunches @ $1.50 ea. = $3.00
(We haven't picked these yet, but we can see the tops of them, so they're nearly ready.)

Total Value of
Produce: $117.90

Assuming we would have bought this much produce (not entirely accurate as we ended up giving plenty of cucumbers and tomatoes away), we saved over $100 after our expenses, and that's not including the cilantro or habaneros, which we considered extras. And, since all of our produce is organic, and organic produce is quite a bit more expensive, you might say that the savings are actually much greater.

Keeping in mind that some of our vegetables are still producing and may continue for several more weeks, it seems to us that growing your own veggies really is economical—as long as you keep your gardening expenses in check with a little DIY help from TAiMH.

Backyard Garden—Money Hack Total Savings: $105.50SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

End of the Season Garden Wrap-Up

It's nearly fall, and the garden is winding down. We've still got a ton of tomatoes growing, but the watermelons and cucumbers are finished, and the bean, bell pepper, and swiss chard production has died down. The carrots are nearly ready also—maybe next week.

I haven't been very good about photographing every harvest, and that would get tedious anyway, but just to give an idea of the amount of produce from our little garden, here are some photos of just one harvest:


Green beans: In total, we've probably gotten about five times this much, even though only five of the seeds we planted sprouted.

Total cucumbers: twenty-seven, and most were quite a good size.

I lost count of the tomatoes. Definitely over seventy-five, and they're still coming. No matter how many we eat and give away, they are constantly covering the windowsills. I'd never grown yellow tomatoes before, but they're delicious, just a tad sweeter than our usual red ones.

Here's the holy family watching over the tomato flock.

And some more in the fridge.

Swiss chard cooks down an incredible amount, so even a giant bunch is really only enough for one meal (for two to three people, in our case). We've harvested three large bunches so far and they're still growing nicely. Hopefully the chard will continue growing into October.

Our favorite method of cooking swiss card: sautéed with just a bit of olive oil, garlic, pepper, and lemon juice.

Here's one small harvest, the day after a big one.

We ended up with six watermelons. By the time I took this picture, though, we'd already eaten two. They're just so damn good. I eat them with salt.

I didn't realize they were baby watermelons (smaller and less oblong) when I planted them, but it's just as well. They're super sweet and juicy, way better than any store-bought watermelon I've had. I'm definitely saving some seeds from these guys to plant in our next garden (in Costa Rica!), I just hope it's legal to cross the boarder with them.

Speaking of Costa Rica, the contents of this blog may see a bit of a shift after MDT and I move there mid-October. Hopefully the sorts of things we'll be doing to save money will be just as applicable Stateside, but we'll have to wait and see.

End of the Season Garden Wrap-UpSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guest Post: Save a bob when you travel abroad

More travel tips from the pros. Sorry, we've been bitten by the bug. We just can't stop . . .

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you know what it’s like to be fresh out of school and loaded down with about a million dollars in debt that you can look forward to paying off for the next thirty years.

If you’re also like me, you refuse to let a little thing like a lack of funds get in the way of having fun. Certainly, there are plenty of cheap ways to stay home and have fun—but what about those of us with the travel bug? The desire to see the world? The need to see different cultures? A rabid desire to sit in a stuffy container full of obnoxious people for hours on end in order to reach this aim?

Well, we must figure out ways to travel on a budget.

I recently took a sojourn “across the pond” to Oxford, England, so I feel highly qualified to report on the subject. What, what!

First, when buying tickets, it’s important to look at your options. Do you have frequent flyer miles with a certain company? Maybe you can use some of them to help you on your way. No brand loyalty? Aggregate sites such as collect data from many different airlines to let you compare prices. For those who haven’t seen the commercials, now offers a unique price-tracking service. You can sign up for emails that show trends or tell you when prices hit a low point. You can also sometimes get better prices by going to a different airport than you might ordinarily. For example, I live in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area and, while it takes much longer and an extra bus ride to get to there, I usually fly out of the Baltimore airport because the tickets are substantially ($100+) cheaper than flying out of DCA.

So there you are, you’ve bought your ticket, taken the trip, and arrived at the hallowed foreign (or domestic) port. If your destination is a foreign country, be sure to have brought a bit of currency with you that you bought at your bank back home. This is much cheaper than the foreign exchange companies at the airport, and trying to take cash out at a foreign ATM can be just as costly. While you can use credit cards abroad, there is usually a charge involved. Check at your bank before you leave to see what it is. In addition, be sure to tell your bank when and where you’re going abroad so they don’t block your card, thinking someone has made off with it!

When it comes to lodging, maybe you’re lucky, as I was, and have friends or family or distant fifth cousins twice removed with whom you might stay. Jolly good! For those of you without such good fortune, there are always cheaper options than a five-star hotel. Most cities have hostels for those who aren’t too picky about sharing rooms and bathrooms. Let’s be honest, you aren’t picky because you are POOR. Look into information for students visiting the city, because often the suggestions don’t require you to actually be a student. The internet is a wonderful resource, but you can also . . . buy books, Shoestring guides, and whatnot.

Getting around in new place can be challenging. Research forms of transportation first. Is it easy to walk around? Stick to the sidewalks. Need to go further? Try trains and buses instead of cabs. It’s always easier to take a taxi when laden with luggage, of course, but the truly spirited (and bereft of currency) can make do on public transportation. I have wandered many a city with two giant suitcases and other sundry bags. Sure it’s a pain, but then you can afford something else . . . like food!

Sustenance, if not debauchery, is always required when traveling. Every meal needn’t be a blowout. Find a grocery store and buy some cereal, fruit, and granola bars or crackers for breakfast and snacks. Dying to try the local cuisine? Decide on a few things you cannot live without tasting and save your money for those. Limit the amount of alcohol you buy—unless, as was my case, alcohol is a primary interest in your visit. Yes, I visited a different pub (or two) every day whilst in England. I limited myself to one or two beers, tried to always get something different so as to get the most out of the experience, and bought the cheapest food on the menu. Let’s face it—no one goes to England for the food. Okay, maybe some food, but there’s only so much fish and chips you can eat in one go.

Of course, seeing the sights is what it’s really all about. Every place has the things you can do for free and the things that cost an arm and a leg. I had quite a fine time walking around Oxford, seeing the colleges, the free museums, the “dreaming spires.” One tourbook I’d bought featured a selection of walks through the city or surrounding countryside. At one point, I spent an entire day wandering along canals and through fields, getting a bit lost here and there along the way, but having a smashing time nonetheless.

But what about when something you simply must do costs money? Sometimes, there’s no choice—you didn’t travel four thousand miles to not do things. Find out if there are discounts, cheaper hours, rush tickets, or other ways to get in on the cheap. It might take some digging, or perhaps the usage of that student ID that conveniently has no date on it. . . . In the end, decide what it is you absolutely cannot miss out on and budget for it.

Finally, what to do about all those people who want presents when you get back? Perhaps you can’t afford to buy everyone a T-shirt, and who knows if they’d really wear it all that often anyway. But, you can be almost certain, everyone loves a good postcard. Postcards are a great way to let the friends you’ve left behind know that, even though you’re a fabulous globetrotter, you remember them. They get to see a bit of where you are and have a personal message to match. For those for whom you absolutely must get gifts, be thoughtful and practical. Very few people really want that model of the biggest ball of twine.

With a little research and some self-control, traveling on a budget can be fun and easy. Decide on a maximum amount you’re willing to spend, and stick to it. Figure out what’s important for you to see and experience on your trip, and what frivolities can be lived without. Keep this in mind whenever you’re making a purchase and you’ll come home with a guilt-free conscience, a bank account with some wiggle room, and amazing memories.

Thanks to the brilliant Miss Elana Devereux for this fabulously helpful article. We can only hope she keeps TAiMH in her favor and writes more for us.

Thanks to Military Finance for including this post in the Money Hacks Carnival.

Guest Post: Save a bob when you travel abroadSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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